Mystery and Crime Fiction posted March 4, 2013 Chapters:  ...31 32 -33- 34... 


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Tony's Grisly Discovery

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Utahu Moon

by Writingfundimension

Previously:  Fritz Buell has been kidnapped and detectives of Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department fear he's been murdered. The missing man is a member of St. Matilde's Catholic Parish whose members are still reeling from the murder of one of their beloved elderly members, 
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Excerpt from Chapter 32:

He jerked at the sudden buzz of his cell phone. Shaking off Raymond's hand, Ty grabbed the phone from his belt. The two brothers took advantage of the distraction to head for their cabin.

"What you got, Lu?"

Dispatcher Luella Bouvier spoke slowly to cover the shaking of her voice. "Tony Buday just called to report he's found a body. You'll find him and... it... at the turnout overlooking Mullet Lake."
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The raucous exchange of crows discussing their morning plans drew Tony back to the moment. He'd pushed his chair back from the kitchen table and was sitting with his knees crossed, fingers wrapped about the cup cradled in his lap. Using the percolator-style coffee pot handed down by his mother, he made his coffee strong and drank it black. The potent stimulant barely managed to clear his brain fog.

Wasu draped his head across Tony's knee. The Medicine Man raked his fingers through the coon dog's dense fur, eliciting a low rumble of pleasure. Eyebrows bobbing, Wasu rolled the whites of his eyes in a silent plea for table scraps.

Picking out a crooked slice of bacon off his plate, Tony held it above the dog's nose.

"Is this what you're waiting for, Wasu?"

The dog clamped his lips around the bacon, walked a short distance away and dropped onto his belly to consume it. Rubbing his nose along the floor, he searched for stray crumbs. Finding none, he turned to licking the residual grease from his paws.

His master derived none of the usual pleasure from watching Wasu's antics. Tony had slept badly. Twice he'd been ripped from his rest by the violent shaking of his mattress. The first time he thought it might be his niece, Jana, shaking him awake. But then he remembered she'd called to say she'd be staying in town with a friend.

He took a flashlight from the bedside table and got up to search the room. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary. He concluded it must have been a vivid dream, crawled back under the blankets and was soon asleep.

The second attack lifted the mattress up off the frame, causing his head to hit the backboard.

Shooting upright, Tony reached inside his nightshirt and grasped the pouch resting against his chest. It was hot and pulsed with an internal energy---indicating that whatever was in the room represented a threat. Tony sniffed the air in short bursts. A smell that was a mixture of wet fur and feces emanated from somewhere nearby. He scanned the floor to see if, perhaps, Wasu had gotten sick during the night and was astounded to find his hound lying passed out beside the bed.

Though Wasu was old, his hearing was keen. Tony realized a terrible magic was at work to both render his dog unconscious and produce the poltergeist phenomenon.

Probing his scalp, he found a tender, raised area which proved he'd not been dreaming. I'll not stand for this. Tony pressed his palms into the mattress beneath his hips and gathered his strength. In a voice rough with contempt, he shouted out a challenge.

"Iglaotontin (identify yourself)! This old man does not fear you, Ignaskinyan (possessor)!"

The response was a crash that came from the direction of his kitchen. Wasu woke and stood at the foot of the bed barking. Tony stepped onto the cold floor and into his waiting slippers. He grabbed his dog's collar, and the two of them advanced down the short hallway.

Cabinet doors teetered on their hinges and drawers lay overturned on the floor. Wasu pulled free of Tony's grasp. He whimpered and circled in agitation, torn between retreating to safety and staying by his owner's side.

Tony stepped through the cutlery and dried goods strewn across the floor and stopped before the only drawer in the room left undisturbed. He pulled it partway open, removing an eight-inch stick of blessed sage and a flame starter. He hugged the bundle against his chest and bowed his head.

Keyape, wahiteSni t'e kin magnaye yelo (Together, let us remove this evil that laughs at the mischief it makes).

For the better part of an hour, he purified every room in the house.

Blowing on the burning tip of the bundle to keep a steady stream of cleansing smoke, he smudged the spaces and sealed the doors and windows. Only then did he turn his attention to the mess on his kitchen floor.

A hot shower and breakfast eased residual tension. Tony was satisfied that, for the moment, he'd rid his home of a pestilent energy. If, as he suspected, its intention was to intimidate him, it failed in that regard. He intended to proceed with his plan to hunt for fall mushrooms coaxed to the surface by the recent rains.

Carefully, he stacked his breakfast dishes into a neat pile and placed them at the bottom of the sink. He then dressed in several layers for the long walk to the edge of his property --- a quarter mile of which abutted Mullet Lake. There, ancient oaks shared space with amputated limbs that served as protection for the shy, sun-seeking fungi. Tony folded a cotton flour sack and tucked it into his pocket. Depending on the quantity found, he'd eat some for his evening meal, and others he'd dry for winter stews and soups.

At the bottom of the porch he hesitated. Patting his pockets, he came up empty for the object of his search.

Where did I leave that phone? If Jana comes home and finds I've left it behind again, I'll have to endure another tongue lashing.

Tony promised his niece, Jana, he would never go out for his woodland walks without the cell phone she bought him. Wasu, who was busy marking the nearby trees, failed to notice Tony had gone back into the house.

A search of the house was fruitless. "Am I just not seeing it?" he wondered.

"Look under the bed," a voice answered in his mind.

Tony knelt beside the bed and reached underneath. His fingers closed around the small metal object. Stuffing it into his jacket, he hurried from the house. 

The further his footsteps took him into the woods, the better he began to feel. Soon, Tony was caught up in the beauty of the early morning forestland. His walking stick kept a steady tempo in his head as he made his way over and around jutting roots and leaves huddled beneath the curving fronds of woodland ferns.

As he walked, he dissected the night's events. This latest spiritual attack represented an escalating level of menace. They had begun only when a link was suggested between Debra Padget's murder and the vile acts of a pedophile cleric who'd preyed on Tony's nephew. He was firmly convinced an old evil was on the move.

Wasu bounded into view with his big, red tongue draped sideways across his teeth and tail wagging excitedly.

"What have you found, Wasu?"

The hound barked twice, twirled and led the way to a spot in the woods a short distance from where Tony stood.

"Probably a squirrel teasing him from the safety of a tree trunk," he thought as he followed.

Tony felt prickles of energy along his arms and up his spine as he caught up with his dog. Nudging aside the curious hound, Tony grunted in surprise. A pair of snakes slid from beneath a fallen log and disappeared quickly into the tall grasses.

Snakes were common in his woods, but he'd never seen two of them traveling side by side. Was this a sign that, indeed, the two events were linked, or was it a foretelling of something coming? The knot in his gut kept him on the alert.

He neared the spot where he'd found mushrooms in the past. Using a flashlight, he combed the area for his most-prized specimen: Hen of the Woods. The mushroom derived its name from the fact its color bore a strong resemblance to the back feathers of a chicken. Tony loved it fried with butter and onions and accompanying a good piece of steak.

A compass check confirmed he was moving in the right direction. He smiled when he caught sight of a line of oak trees. He approached the wide-girthed 'grandfather tree'. Studding its base was a mass of Hen of the Woods. He picked half the mushrooms and gently slid them into his sack. His final act was to thank the plants for the gift of their lives.

The sun had brought a pleasant warmth to the emergent day and he was anxious to return home and cook up a batch of the mushrooms. Rising, he looked about and was surprised by how far he'd wandered off his regular path. Mullet Lake was visible through the trees, which meant he'd reached the lookout and was no longer on his own land.

The Lake appeared mantled in diamond dust where the sun reflected off its surface, and Tony was drawn to its mute beauty. He intended to rest a bit on the bench that faced the water, but stopped short of it when he noticed the seat was occupied.

Cautiously he approached.

"Hau (hello). Is everything okay?" he said by way of giving notice of his approach.

A Wasicu (white man) dressed in a loose, black gown, lay on his back with his bare feet hanging off the edge of the bench. Tony resisted being near a corpse, but knew he needed to confirm the man was dead. He touched one of the feet and recognized the cold, hard state of rigor mortis. A quick scan revealed two round discs were taped over the dead man's eyes and a note was pinned to the garment.

The missing white man.

Stepping far away from the body, Tony called Tribal Police Headquarters. He reported the finding of the body and agreed to wait for the Tribal Policemen to arrive. Seated on one of the downed logs, he felt the full weight of his seventy-six years. His emotions flip-flopped between the desire to destroy and To Ksa Pe (His wisdom).

He worried about what complications this would create for his niece as case detective. Even more, he worried about the pain this finding would cause his sister, Agnes. How was he going to tell her the murdered man was placed on the identical spot her sexually-traumatized son, Billy, shot himself years before? 



Recognized


Native Americans consider Sage a sacred herb that purifies and cleanses body and spirit. Commonly, it is found in bundles. The tip is lighted and the fragrant smoke is swirled around the body or used to seal windows and doorways. The process is referred to as smudging.

Characters:

Tony Buday: Sioux Medicine Man and healer.
Jana Burke: Niece of Tony Buday and a detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department.
Agnes Buday: Tony Buday's sister and Jana Burke's grandmother.
Debra Padget: Murder victim
Billy Longacre: Victim of a pedophile priest who committed suicide.
Tyson (Ty) Longacre: Tribal policeman

Terms:

Poltergeist: A noisy, usually mischievous, ghost
Utahu: Sioux for oak (ue-dah-hue)

Thanks much to MinoYasue for the awesome artwork: The Messenger
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